Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Communication from nurses can prevent medical errors

We've spoken many times about the need for better communication among medical staff to prevent medical errors from occurring. Yet when a medical culture exists in Pennsylvania medical facilities where the nurse and the physician are not considered to be playing on the same field, nurses are often hesitant to speak up when the dangers of a medical mistake occurring are great.

In industry, there is a phrase called "stop the line" which is used to instantly stop a production process before a manufacturing mistake occurs. Medical personnel are now using a similar procedure for an even more effective purpose. Manufacturing mistakes usually can be corrected. Medical mistakes are often irreversible.

Making such a process work requires a culture of respect that goes both ways in the relationship between physicians and nurses. Though many hospitals claim that such a culture exists at their facilities, in reality this is unfortunately rare. Hospitals may need to actually practice "stop the line" scenarios during mock procedures and to discuss the results of such procedures with the entire staff.

Nurses have to be encouraged to speak up if the "stop the line" process is going to be effective. Unless we are speaking of emergency circumstances where action needs to be taken instantaneously, it seldom hurts for a physician to take an additional 30 seconds to think through a particular process and discuss it with his nursing staff.

Medical malpractice lawsuits brought by lawyers and clients often come about when doctors simply miss the obvious. Despite their advanced training, they are human like everyone else and sometimes need to have a second set of eyes to verify whether they are right or wrong.

Source: Media Health Leaders, "Nursing Borrows a Trick from Manufacturing," by Alexandra Wilson Pecci, March 6, 2012

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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